Wake up “boiling frogs”: a study on animal husbandry under climate change in Northern China

  • Lijuan Miao
  • Zhanli Sun
  • Xuefeng Cui
  • Justin Veuthey
Original Article


The development of animal husbandry in China is facing enormous pressure from increasing demand of meat consumption, climate change, degrading grassland, and changing national policies. This paper presents the latest findings from an anthropological field investigation interviewing local herders, traders, and local officials from farming–pastoral ecotone in Inner Mongolia and shed lights on how locals have adapted their lives to climate change and the new national husbandry policies of the twenty-first century. Based on the anthropological interviews, we discussed the future opportunities and challenges of animal husbandry development in farming–pastoral ecotone. Results suggested that national ecological conservation policies and meat price have much larger impacts on animal husbandry than climate change, as perceived by locals. Family Fencing Policy, a relatively new policy aiming to avoid overgrazing and restore vegetation, was neither well accepted nor well implemented by the local herders. This is partially explained by the poor fencing technology, insufficient support facilities, as well as the high costs and low-profit margins in the animal husbandry. We conclude by suggesting that pastoralism in Northern China may greatly benefit from the development of rural cooperatives and active participation of locals in policy designing and implementation.


Pastoralism Adaptation Climate change Policy analysis Inner Mongolia China 



The work was financially supported by the Key Project of National Social and Scientific Fund Program (16ZDA047), National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0504301), the European Union’s framework programme of research and innovation horizon 2020 (2014–2020) under the Marie Skłodowska Curie Agreement (795179), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Startup Foundation for Introducing Talents of Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (2243141601048), National Basic Research Development Program of China (2015CB953602, 2016YFA0602500), and the National Science Foundation of China (91637104, 41661144006).


  1. Ao R, Hu. E (2007) Assessment of grassland grazing system development and mode chosing in Inner Mongolia. Inner Mong Soc Sci 28:90–92Google Scholar
  2. Gao A, Zhao H (2010) Discussion on the impact of grazing and feeding on the production ability of the centre-half goat Gansu. Anim Vet Sci 4:9–13Google Scholar
  3. Gavrilescu M, Demnerova K, Aamand J, Agathos S, Fava F (2015) Emerging pollutants in the environment: present and future challenges in biomonitoring, ecological risks and bioremediation. New Biotechnol 32:147–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Harper C (2015) Environment and society. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  5. Hua L, Squires VR (2015) Managing China’s pastoral lands: current problems and future prospects. Land Use Policy 43:129–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Larsen J (2012) Meat Consumption in China Now Double That in the United States. Earth Policy Institute, Washington, DC Google Scholar
  7. Lei YD, Wang JA, Luo LL (2011) Drought risk assessment of China’s mid-season paddy. Int J Disaster Risk Sci 2:32–40. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Li Z, Bao Y, Zhang J, Wang H, Hu Z (2015) Comparative analysis on degradation and its driving factors in Xilin Gol grassland and Hulun Buir Grassland. J Dailian Nationalities Univ 17:1–5Google Scholar
  9. Liang F, Tang H (2009) Impact of climate change on the agriculture and animal husbandry productivity in Wulanhaote and its strategy. Inner Mong Sci Technol Econ 6:60–61Google Scholar
  10. Liu R (2010) Under the Grain for green project, banning grazing, rest grazing and rotation grazing to recover the grassland ecosystem. Inner Mong Prataculture 22:14–17Google Scholar
  11. Liu S (2013) The advantage and measures of developing the grassalnd feeding animal husbandry. Chin Agric Inf 9:110Google Scholar
  12. Miao L, Fraser R, Sun Z, Sneath D, He B, Cui X (2015a) Climate impact on vegetation and animal husbandry on the Mongolian plateau: a comparative analysis. Nat Hazards 80:727–739. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Miao L, Moore JC, Zeng F, Lei J, Ding J, He B, Cui X (2015b) Footprint of research in desertification management in China. Land Degrad Dev 26:450–457. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Miao L, Ye P, He B, Chen L, Cui X (2015c) Future climate impact on the desertification in the dry land Asia using AVHRR GIMMS NDVI3g data. Remote Sens 7:3863–3877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mu S, Li J, Yang H, Gang C, Chen Y (2013) Spatio-temporal variation analysis of grassland net primary productivity and its relationship with climate over the past 10 years in Inner Mongolia. Acta Prataculturae Sinica 22:6–15Google Scholar
  16. Wang J (2012) Developing features of foreign animal husbandry and the choose of animal husbandry developing mode in China. Word Agric 10:32–35Google Scholar
  17. Williams DM (2002) Beyond great walls: environment, identity, and development on the Chinese grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  18. Wu G, Du G, Liu Z, Thirgood S (2009) Effect of fencing and grazing on a Kobresia-dominated meadow in the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau. Plant Soil 319:115–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Xu YC, Zhang YQ, Gao LP, Qiao GH, Chen JQ (2015) To fence or not to fence? Perceptions and attitudes of herders in Inner Mongolia. Build Resil Mong Rangel, Mongolia, 9–10 June 2015  Google Scholar
  20. Yan Y, Tang H (2007) Effects of exclosure on typical steppe community properties in Inner Mongolia. Acta Botanica Boreali- Occidentalia Sinica 27:1225–1232Google Scholar
  21. Zhang L (2013) Economic status, problems and developing strategies of animal husbandry in Inner Mongolia. Anim Husb Feed Sci 34:78–79Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geographical SciencesNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Structural Development of Farms and Rural AreasLeibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO)HalleGermany
  3. 3.School of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity College DublinDublinIreland
  4. 4.School of Systems ScienceBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  5. 5.School of Humanitarian StudiesRoyal Roads UniversityVictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations